When you actually think about the amount of control required to hold a pencil and direct it in the manner required to form letters, it is easy to see why activities that strengthen and train the muscles in the hand and fingers are so important for young children. While many of the activities below may first appear as regular play, they are actually important ‘work’ in the life of a child, and regular opportunities to engage in these activities (and others like them) are an essential first step in the process of learning to write.
1. Play with some plasticene, clay or playdough. Read more about ways working with dough can strengthen small fingers here.
2. Take Gill at Moving Smart’s advice and head out to the playground to hang around (literally!) on the monkey bars. In her post, Gill provides fantastic information about why this is so important to the process of learning to write.
3. Improve hand eye coordination while getting crafty by sewing buttons.
4. Or threading mobiles.
5. Get out the scissors for some snipping practice.
6. Head out into the garden and shovel! Or try pouring, scooping, pinching and spooning which all require fine motor control. Of course, if you are stuck indoors a tub of rice and an assortment of cups, bowls, scoops and spoons will serve exactly the same purpose.
8. Cook with your child – activities such as slicing, stirring, whisking, peeling, mashing, kneading, grating, squeezing juice, crushing with a garlic press and pounding with a mortar and pestle all develop the muscles of the fingers and hands.
9. Completing jigsaw puzzles is great for developing a range of thinking skills as well as fine motor skills.
What are your favourite activities for strengthening fingers and developing fine motor control?